Queering the Eclipse: What You Might See and How It Might Feel

Queering the Eclipse: What You Might See and How It Might Feel

Eclipses are queer events.

Sure, we’re used to seeing the Sun and the Moon all the time, but usually they’re each doing their own thing.

But, once in a while their orbits overlap, and humans just love it.

Here we’re going to talk about what happens during a solar eclipse, what you might see, how to protect your eyes, what you might feel going on inside yourself, and how other animals might act as these cosmic bodies align.

An astronomical explanation of solar eclipses

The Earth is spinning around the Sun. The Moon is spinning around the Earth.

solar-eclipse-diagram.jpg

They’re always doing this, and once in a while their paths align.

A solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes directly in between the Sun and the Earth, casting a shadow over part of the planet.

This certain alignment can only happen around a New Moon. (Lunar eclipses happen during Full Moon). And they line up this way about twice a year.

What you might see during an eclipse 

So, during an eclipse the moon moves in front of the Sun.

When this happens, all kinds of amazing visual effects happen as light from the Sun bends around the edges of the moon.

Bailey’s beads – as the Moon passes in front of the Sun, light shines across the rough edges of the landscape of the Moon.

The sunlight peeking through these Moon mountains looks like a string of bright shiny beads.

rainbow eclipse.jpgCorona rainbows – when the air is full of water molecules, the light shining through can cause rainbows to appear around the corona of the Sun.

The corona of the Sun is described as the Sun’s aura, which is made of plasma and extends millions of kilometers into space

(But really, this sounds like it could be a special edition beer for Pride)

shadowShadow bands – you won’t see shadow bands in the sky, you’ll see them by looking down at Earth.

They’re shadows that move with a snake-like motion along the ground during an eclipse.

Shadow bands aren’t very commonly seen during eclipses, but for the best chance of seeing them, you can put a lightly colored sheet on the ground, or be near a surface like concrete, sand, snow or ice.

Although scientists aren’t totally sure why these happen, it might be because of the way light focuses and refocuses through the atmosphere.

See stars and planets – the sky can get so dark that stars look as bright as they would at night, and especially around the totality of the eclipse planets like Venus and Jupiter can be seen.

Eye safety and eclipses

Like I always say, safety third. So, let’s talk eclipse safety!

eclipse glasses.jpg
me during the partial eclipse of 2014

Don’t look at the Sun without some sort of protective glasses.

When the Sun is partially eclipsed it looks much less bright than usual so it can seem like it’s alright to look at it, but the UV rays are still powerful enough to cause serious damage to your eyes.

If you’re in the area where the eclipse is total, you can take off your protective glasses while it’s total, but once sunlight begins coming through put your glasses back on. Even seeing 1% of the Sun is enough to cause damage to your eyes.

Direct UV exposure can cause solar retinopathy. That might show up as blurred vision, dark spots, pain, and loss of vision, which could go away after a few days or weeks, or could be permanent.

Unless you’ve already got an intentional sungazing practice going on, then make sure to use some kind of eye protection.

How to protect your eyes

If you have some eclipse glasses you can use those. It might be too late to order them for this one, but there’s always another one coming up.

If you don’t have eclipse glasses, you probably have the materials around to make a very technical pinhole viewer thing.

pinhole thing wired.jpg
image via Wired

The Sun and the Subconscious

In esoteric understandings, the Sun and the Moon represents masculine and feminine energies. An eclipse is a particularly queer time because these two forces line up, converging, moving beyond duality.

The Sun is associated with consciousness, with daylight, with what we can see and what is known.

The Moon is associated with the subconscious, with darkness, with changing internal feelings and intuitions.

When the Sun and the Moon line up, it can provide insight into what might have previously been hidden from yourself. Examine what’s been blocking you in your progress towards your goals, and feel into how you can move towards completion.

This is a particularly powerful time for meditation. Whether you choose to fast for the day or not, you might want to set aside some time to reflect on what you’re working on.

Other possible effects on the body… maybe 

All of the potential effects listed here that a solar eclipse might have on humans come without any proven research. Just because there’s not verified scientific research that doesn’t mean it’s not true, but also, don’t worry too much about being affected by these issues.

  • Feel sleepy – if you’re in the path of an eclipse, the shift in the natural daylight can affect your natural rhythms so you feel sleepy.
  • Digestive effects – According to certain thinking in Ayurveda, there can be more raja-tama in the atmosphere, so it can be recommended to fast during an eclipse to help with meditation, if you’re into that.
  • Emotional influences – You might feel more emotional at this time as things that are usually hidden have a tendency to come to the surface at this time. So, give yourself some space to feel into whatever might come up.

What about other animals and the eclipse?

Humans aren’t the only ones who notice the Sun’s disappearance in the middle of the day.

Other animals are also influenced by cycles of light and dark, which the eclipse directly interferes with.

These cycles that influence how animals act throughout the day get thrown off by midday darkness. Animals like birds and insects that normally get noisy at dusk, will make more noise during the darkness of the eclipse.

Jane Goodall who lived with chimpanzees reported that they turn towards the Sun, while pointing and yelling, as if they were saying “hey, look at that!”

Some animals might move around more and seem antsy, some might move around less because they feel sleepy when it’s dark.

Humans don’t really know how other animals feel about the eclipse or what they think. But there are a lot of humans who won’t only be watching the sky during the eclipse, they’ll also be watching to see what other animals do.

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Thanks for reading! Try meditating during the eclipse, and make sure to protect your eyes however you view it. And if you think this is interesting, please go ahead and share it with a friend who might also be into it.

Feel free to send us a note saying how it’s going for you. Or if you have any questions about your experience, feel free to ask, and we’ll get back to you.

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